Ahmed Khalil nets four as UAE win 8-0

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Four goal hero: Ahmed Khalil.

The UAE certainly cannot be criticised for a lack of entertainment, no matter the current condition of their 2018 World Cup qualification bid.

The Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium was again treated to a glut of goals as Mahdi Ali’s men made it to 18 in their last two home qualifiers with a 8-0 dismantling of minnows Timor Leste on Thursday night.

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Skipper Ahmed Khalil was the star once again, weighing in with a quartet to make himself the top scorer in the AFC section with nine strikes in five games. Yet this was a result to boost morale after last month’s damaging 2-1 loss to Saudi Arabia, rather than raise hopes of making a second-ever appearance at the globe’s premier sporting event.

The Whites sit a place and three points behind the Group A-leading Green Falcons, with only the table toppers guaranteed to make the third round. This result also didn’t count towards the crucial formula which will decide the four best runners-up who progress with them in 2016, a grouping the UAE sit at the bottom of.

Ali knows his men must win all three remaining matches to rest easily. Destiny is in their hands, the second round reaching a crescendo in March with the visit of the Saudis to Abu Dhabi.

The confidence gained from another ruthless display in front of goal must be utilised in Tuesday’s trip to Malaysia, who were humiliated 10-0 in September. A new regime promises a much-harder match at Stadium Shah Alam, despite Thursday’s 6-0 loss to a third-placed Palestine who remain on the UAE’s toes.

The Whites didn’t waste any time hitting their stride against an O Sol Nascente ranked 162 in the world by FIFA and robbed of their seven-strong Brazilian-born contingent after an eligibility crisis. Even the suspension of superstar playmaker Omar Abdulrahman failed to make a telling impact.

A brace of corners saw Al Jazira forward Ali Mabkhout make it five goals in a week following last Thursday’s hat-trick in the 5-1 friendly thumping of Turkmenistan.

Neither was cleared properly by a shaky backline, the 25-year-old first stooping in on the back post on 16 minutes to open the scoring before lashing home soon after.

Khalil got his first of the night to make it 3-0 at the break. The Al Ahli man – who wore the captain’s armband after Pride of Abu Dhabi goalkeeper Ali Khaseif was dropped – fired in a low shot after shaky centre-back Ervino Soares’ stumble.

The Whites had been 7-0 up against Malaysia at this stage in September. They soon set about levelling this up in the second half, four more goals coming in the first 13 minutes.

Khalil struck a penalty after Bani Yas centre midfielder Amer Abdulrahman was barged over in the penalty area, then tapping in on the goal line and firing into the roof of the goal from a delicate lofted ball from the latter-mentioned.

In the midst of this rampage, Al Shabab forward Dawood Ali celebrated his recall to the squad with a lovely individual effort on 54 minutes, dancing through to blaze in at the near post past despairing visiting shot stopper Aderito Fernandes.

There was further joy at the death, promising Al Jazira youngster Ahmed Al Attas slotting underneath the keeper on his home ground to make it 8-0.

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FIFA approves five presidential candidates, Michel Platini pending

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Platini may not be in the race.

FIFA on Thursday approved five candidates to stand in February's vote to replace Sepp Blatter as president of world football's governing body, but Michel Platini has not yet made the list.

The five who met the qualifications following a series of integrity tests were: Prince Ali Al Hussein, Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, Jerome Champagne, Gianni Infantino and Tokyo Sexwale, a FIFA statement said.

The candidacy of Platini, the suspended head of European football who had been the favourite to succeed Blatter, will be examined once his 90-day suspension by FIFA's ethics committee is over.

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The only candidate to be disqualified after receiving provisional approval was Musa Bility, the head of the Liberian football association.

"The Ad-hoc Electoral Committee did not admit the candidature of Musa Hassan Bility, in view of the content of the integrity check report relating to him," the statement said.

FIFA said it had explained the reasons for disqualification privately to Bility, but it would not make the specifics public.

The race is thought to be wide open given Platini's potential ethics violations, including a probe over a murky $2 million payment he received from FIFA in 2011.

His suspension triggered a flurry of activity with the powerful Asian football chief Sheikh Salman, former FIFA official Champagne, South African anti-apartheid campaigner Sexwale, UEFA general secretary Infantino and Bility all throwing their hats into the ring.

The race is likely to be heavily shaped by whether Platini is ultimately admitted, with Infantino indicating he would stand aside if his UEFA boss qualifies for the vote.

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VIDEO: Brazil’s Dunga wary of Argentina threat

fahad 12/11/2015
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Dunga talks Neymar during Brazil news conference ahead of World Cup qualifier against Argentina.

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Argentina head coach Tata Martino admits the absence of Barcelona striker Lionel Messi will be a challenge as La Albiceleste prepares to face Brazil in 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying.









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